Policewoman awarded £275,000 over sex discrimination

A policewoman who endured sexist comments at work has been awarded £275,000 in damages from her former force, it emerged today.

Firearms officer Barbara Lynford won a sexual discrimination claim against Sussex Police after suffering embarrassing and humiliating sexual remarks when she joined an all-male team at Gatwick Airport.

At an employment tribunal in August 2007 she spoke of how her boss was openly sexist towards her and her male colleagues left men's magazines containing photographs of topless women lying around.

She also claimed her colleagues stretched their breaks into hours when they should have been on patrol.

She told the Brighton tribunal her boss endorsed his team taking "sickies" when they were not unwell while other officers refused to sit next to her or work with her in a team.

Ms Lynford, who joined Sussex Police 17 years ago before becoming part of the Gatwick team in 2002, also claimed her colleagues read private messages on her mobile phone and ran over it in a van on the day her grandmother died.

She was signed off work with work-related stress and never returned. Prior to this, she had only one day off sick in the previous four years.

After hearing her evidence the tribunal panel said it was "troubled" by the way she was treated and by the lack of support shown to her after she went on sick leave.

The ruling in November 2007 also added that these points "would benefit from further consideration" by the force.

Marion Fanthorpe, director of human resources for Sussex Police, said today: "We accept those areas that the tribunal found in favour of Pc Lynford and regret that our support for her fell short of the high personal and professional standards expected of everyone who works for Sussex Police.

"In the four years that have passed since the tribunal was first submitted, we have addressed the areas that were found against us and we are satisfied that our policies to drive mutual respect in the workplace are working well.

"They are open to public scrutiny via the force website.

"There have been no other related tribunals in the four years since this incident and Gatwick continues to be a popular place to work for male and female officers alike."